A question of Gross National Happiness
As the United Nations and the development experts and gurus of our world churn out ideas and insights on measuring the happiness levels of the earth’s teeming billions in macro-economic terms and with a mini example of the tiny Bhutan exploring happiness for its people at the micro-economic level, can the very mindset of our statesmanship, leadership, academicians, professionals and man in the street be tested with this idealistic yet potentially value-adding deviation to Gross National Happiness?
Daring from the set, standard and stereotype talk of per capita income and Gross National Product (GNP) to an idealistic yet ground-breaking view of poverty alleviation through Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a very tough ask and tedious task. When man in the street, men of letters and, more importantly, men at the helm of affairs, are in a lurch on the discarded and dissipating ways and means in socio-economic uplift, why not dare for the novel in Gross National Happiness (GNH)!
Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a measurement of the collective happiness of a nation. GNH is a holistic and sustainable approach to development, which balances material and non-material resources. GNH, very basically and most vitally, needs to drastically shift from what it shuns as the null and void notion of mass production to what it upholds as production by the masses as the key to socio-economic development towards what is generally, commonly and conceptually termed as a welfare society.
The importance of Gross National Happiness applies to the world at large irrespective of the least-developed, underdeveloped, developing or the developed societies and from Africa ‘the Dark Continent’ to Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and indeed, tapping the human resource of our very own Pakistan.
How is truly measuring GNH, mass scale happiness, vying to overshadow erroneous GNP, is logical and pragmatic if well-examined in letter and in spirit. It works with out-of-the-ordinary sincerity, seriousness and innovation indeed. The real essence of Gross National Happiness (GNH) actually revolves around self-help or autarky when and where masses are exposed to and trained in or attuned to and acclimatized with self- confidence and self-reliance through aptitude-oriented vocational skills and trades by concerned and illustrious counselors and professionals to stand on their own feet and to earn living with grace, dignity and honor in the comity of self-reliant and civilized societies of our world.
It is a question of willingness and transformation of the mindsets and policies of those at the helm of private and public sectors or of the government and the non-governmental organisations (NGO) affairs to take on the national challenge of inculcating such self-confidence and self-reliance whereby masses are trained in livelihood skills and trades replacing the concept of the sole bread- earner or one hand feeding ten mouths and enabling all family members to contribute to the family budget towards a happy family and Gross National Happiness, GNH.
Even purdah-clad females with sewing, stitching and embroidery skills, elderly grand parents’ craftsmanship, uniquely skilled kids at home can combine acumen and income towards a better and brighter family life and national happiness at large. That means inculcating in them through illustrious educators and trainers in the private and public sectors with an enlightened and volunteering print and electronic media.
Given the fact that there is no dearth of experts in our think tank with their practical acumen to create a culture of self-reliance at the grassroots level from family to national well-being so that we stand tall in the world, not as seekers of aid and grants in the garb of so- called development cooperation but as a respectable model of autarky, grace and dignity in the comity of nations. May we sink our differences, shun ego, and rise above self towards Gross National Happiness. If there is a will there is a way!
The writer contributes to media on national and international affairs. [email protected]